A Rainbow of Meanings

Different cultures view colors in different ways. Let’s face it, the world is filled with a rainbow of ideas.

RED

If you’re in North America, red is often a warning sign, a stop sign or the sign of spicy food. In Latin American, it’s a sign of death. You won’t find a red car in Brazil, they’re illegal. In China, traditional wedding dresses are red as the color is said to bring good luck. Wander over to India and red is a sign of birth and fertility; it’s also the color of hair died with henna.

ORANGE

In North America, orange is often used for its high visibility properties. It can be used to warn of danger. In India, Hindu monks wear orange robes. It is also the color of the death shroud of a married woman. In China, it represents immortality and good health, and is worn by Buddhist monks. In Brazil, you’ll find it as a symbol of the environment or in the feathers of the Macaw bird.

YELLOW

In North American, yellow is a often used to represent the sun and happiness. In South America, it’s a symbol of wealth and used in religious ceremonies. Traditional Russian wedding dresses are yellow. In India, yellow is a sign of commerce. Yellow is a popular choice in Latin American folk art. Chinese use yellow as a sign of masculinity power and royalty.

GREEN

In North America, green has a few meanings, ranging from health through to jealousy. It can also mean that a person is inexperienced. Everyone seems to equate the color to crops and vegetation in one way or another. However, in China, it’s also a sign of youth, or birth, and is popular in jewelry.

BLUE

In North America, blue is a sign of official business; just look at the mailboxes and the uniforms of police officers. In Latin America, it’s the color of mourning. It has death connotations in the Caribbean and is also associated with pirates. In Russia, the color is often seen alongside the Virgin Mary, and is the color of purity. In Turkey, blue is said to ward off evil and is a sign of wealth.

VIOLET

Violet, or purple, is almost universally associated with royalty. The United States Military awards the Purple Heart to soldiers who are wounded in combat. This gives the color the meaning of bravery. In Israel, it’s a sign of divinity. There are only two national flags that contain any purple or violet: Spain and Nicaragua.

Just as a random fact: the Olympic Flag has five interlocking rings on a white background. The colors of the rings are blue, yellow, black, green and red. These colors were chosen because at least one of the six colors is in every flag of every country in the nation.

So many meanings. No wonder I love living in this colorful world.


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